Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arepa & Peanut Butter

Up, up and away we go!
Early yesterday morning, Carlos and I hiked up a mountain with Ramon and his son Isa, two of our English class students.  It was incredible… and incredibly humbling!
There wasn’t a single trail that led up the mountain, but several small paths, many completely overgrown.  Ramon used his machete to make a way for us, efficiently cutting through undergrowth, vines and tree branches. 

Halfway up we found this 'goat hotel'.
(Do you see a couple on the right?)
Ramon, our awesome guide & friend,
with his machete & rubber boots.
He hiked in a pair of black rubber boots.  Isa wore flip flops (yes, you read that right!) for the first half of the hike.  He then changed into running shoes – with no socks.  They both pointed out various trees and matas (plants) to us.  Their knowledge and skill was amazing, and without it – and Ramon’s machete! – we could never have made the hike.
After about two hours, Ramon told us we were at the top.  Of course, we couldn’t really tell, as the mountain was covered in trees.  We sat down to eat our breakfast.  Isa pulled a big plastic container out of his backpack and offered us some arepa. 

Isa in his flip flops... note how he's ahead of us!
Arepa is a Dominican staple.  It is sweet, with a consistency something like polenta.  It is made with coconut, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and cornmeal mixed together and then put into a heavy lidded pan and cooked in the fire. 

Ramon makes a way
I had brought along some peanut butter and crackers to share.  The crackers were forgotten as we spread peanut butter onto the arepa in our own little bit of Dominican/American ‘fusion cooking’.  Sweet, yummy, and super filling!
Going downhill was a lot harder (and longer) than going up!  We lost the trail a few times, which meant even more machete-wielding by Ramon.  My running shoes are old and the bottoms quite smooth so I felt a little like I was careening down a rainy mountain highway on bald tires! 

The 'trail' down... steep & slippery!
As I slid down yet another bunch of wet undergrowth, landing ungracefully on my backside yet again, I came to the conclusion that if I’m going to continue hiking here, I’ve got to invest in a pair of boots. 

About halfway down, Ramon found an avocado tree, filled with large, lovely fruit.  Isa kicked off his shoes and quickly climbed up.  Ramon used his machete to cut a long pole.  He reached it up to one of the avocados, twisted it around the stem, and plop!, down it fell. 
Isa in the avocado tree.
Meanwhile, up in the tree, Isa was pulling off avocados and throwing them others, causing several more to fall.  He climbed higher and higher, shaking the branches and more avocados rained down.  It was incredible! 

So, so sweaty!  And, this was only 2 hours in
& well before the tree incident!
By the time we got back to where we started, more than five hours had passed.  Unlike Ramon and Isa, who were a bit sweaty and dirty, Carlos and I were soaked, and frankly, disgusting!  
Along with the sweat, I had scratches on my arms and cuts on my hands.  Flailing around and grabbing nearby trees proved to be a bit of a problem, as many of them were covered with thorns.  (Ramon had warned us about this, but when you are free-falling, you grab what you can!) 

At one point I walked into a low-hanging tree branch and was more than a little surprised to rub my forehead and find blood all over my hand!  Note to self:  Thorns are sharp.

With this much beauty to behold... Vale la pena!
Back at Mata de Platanos, Carlos’ mom offered us habichuelas y arroz (beans and rice) with some of the yummy avocado.  It was so, so good!  Both of his parents shook their heads as we recounted our adventures.  I’m sure they thought we were crazy.  Yeah, it’s possible we are!  But, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
As I continue to figure out my place here, I am so thankful for days like yesterday.  Sure, I’ll never be able to use a machete like Ramon, or climb a tree like Isa.  Or make habicheulas to rival Carlos’ mom’s.  But, that’s okay.  I can enjoy learning from them, and sharing what God has given me. 

Like peanut butter spread on that delicious arepa, it’s in the combination that something new and amazing can happen.  I look forward to more hikes, more chances to be a part of life here in the DR.  To seeing God at work, fusing us together in ways which are more than any one of us alone, and more like His Son.  And, if anyone has recommendations for good hiking boots, please let me know!!

1 comment:

  1. So glad you got the pictures to load. Kim, I am so grateful that you share your life with us through your blog. I love seeing what the Lord is doing in and through you. You are mi amiga en Dios and I am blessed by your story!